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Albanian PM joins film school spat

Berisha fires Pango in property rights battle

MOSCOW — Albania’s Prime Minister Sali Berisha has sacked the minister of culture as a bitter dispute over property rights to the country’s only film school, the Marubi Film Academy in Tirana, spirals out of control.

Ylli Pango was dismissed after a TV comedy show “Fiks Fare” broadcast a secretly-recorded tape of the minister in a pornographically lewd conversation with a journalist.

A policeman who had roughed up filmmaker and academy rector Kutjim Cashku during protests outside the school was also fired in a move the school’s supporters see as a shift in official attitudes in their favor.

Pango’s dismissal came less than two weeks after violent clashes between police and film school staff and students prompted a sit-in at the school, which occupies premises at a former state-owned film studio.

The government is challenging the school’s legal rights to the property, which it wants to turn into a car park for the country’s top TV studios.

The latest events came after a televised debate in which Pango and Cashku were supposed to discuss the future of the film school descended into mudslinging over events more than 20 years ago when Albania was a closed Marxist state run by Communist dictator Enver Hoxha.

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